Smart city initiatives are being deployed globally, and data passed from the vehicle directly to a city’s central management system could be the key to helping municipalities solve immediate goals while providing valuable insights for managing future growth.
Building on a statewide pedestrian safety campaign, the Nevada Center for Advanced Mobility (NCAM), along with the City of Las Vegas, the Nevada Department of Transportation, University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada teamed up with the GENIVI Alliance on a vehicle-to-city communication pilot project aimed at addressing the city’s top priorities to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow in Las Vegas. The GENIVI-Las Vegas Connected Vehicle Pilot is a phased approach demonstrating how vehicle communications technology and vehicle data can integrate with the existing transportation infrastructure. The objective of the pilot program is to deliver information to the driver regarding road conditions and other road users, including pedestrians, to create a safer and more connected transportation network.
Key pilot goals:
- Increase awareness of pedestrians and bus stop safety, as well as improve traffic flow
- Understand in-vehicle messaging of roadway conditions and its impact on driver behavior
- Define a method to collect and utilize data for future infrastructure planning
- Field deploy an open software standard for vehicle-to-city communication
- Develop a vehicle-to-city communication approach that multiple cities can use
Why vehicle-to-city data is crucial
Data from the city’s infrastructure, when combined with vehicle location and speed, can inform drivers of upcoming congestion and proximity to backups to reduce the chance of potential rear-end collisions. Drivers can also be made aware of an offloading city bus that makes an intersection a “hot zone” for pedestrian traffic in the hope that pedestrian safety is enhanced. This type of information is crucial for drivers to help increase pedestrian safety, as well as assist city authorities in making corrective decisions and help them study trends over time.
The pilot is initially targeting the following connected vehicle driver awareness scenarios to help increase pedestrian safety and traffic flow:
- Bus stop warnings – Alert drivers of upcoming bus stops and pedestrian traffic to reduce speeds and improve awareness of pedestrian activity
- High-risk warning areas – Use a vehicle’s position and time of day to display an in-vehicle warning as the vehicle nears pedestrian crosswalks
- Speeding warning – Display a warning to drivers that they are exceeding the current speed limit
- Traffic stopped ahead – Provide drivers with an alert of traffic conditions ahead by displaying a warning of upcoming traffic congestion to reduce the chance of rear-end collisions
The key technology partner for the program is the GENIVI Alliance, which fills an essential role that is much more than just contributing the technology piece of the puzzle. The sensors required to collect data are already deployed in the modern connected car, and a goldmine of useful vehicle information is available. What’s missing is a standard way for the vehicle and the city to exchange data with one another. GENIVI delivers that solution with an open software standard called Remote Vehicle Interaction (RVI).
Utilizing city fleet vehicles, the GENIVI-Las Vegas Connected Vehicle Pilot is currently underway. The first vehicle has been outfitted with an onboard unit that establishes end-to-end communication between the vehicle and city-hosted server. The vehicle has been deployed in the Downtown Innovation District and other Las Vegas corridors, and additional city fleet vehicles will be deployed in coming weeks.
Participating drivers will have a very simple and non-distracting user interface that displays graphical icons based on the vehicle status (e.g., speed limit exceeded), and also provides an audible output when the vehicle status changes. Vehicle speed data will be pushed to a city-hosted server and compared against the city-managed speed limit corresponding to the vehicle’s position. Based on this comparison, messaging will be returned to the vehicle and represented by a red or green indicator on the onboard unit to display whether the speed limit is being followed.
With the help of Hortonworks software, the vehicle data will be combined with other city information, such as crosswalk and bus stop locations, resulting in actionable messages that are returned to the vehicles when certain data combinations are found. For planning purposes, the data is archived so that trends and visualization can be applied.
In the coming months, additional vehicles will be deployed, and by the end of the pilot more than 100 vehicles are expected to have participated in the project. While there is no crystal ball indicating the impact the pilot will have, we can be assured that the data gathered will provide Las Vegas with valuable insights for future city planning and infrastructure growth. It will also supply the GENIVI Alliance with key learnings to further develop an open source standard for vehicle-to-city communication that is much needed for the highly connected world of the future.
Steve Crumb is executive director of the GENIVI Alliance.